Why India voted against US, Israel on Jerusalem at United Nations


Dec 5, 2017
Many observers were surprised with India voting in favour of a resolution brought by Turkey and Yemen in the United Nations opposing the United States' decision recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Given the increasing inclination of India towards the US and Israel, speculations were rife that New Delhi might abstain from voting in the UN like 35 countries including Australia and Canada.
India decided to support the resolution, which was approved with a majority of 127-9 at the UN General Assembly. And, India had its reasons to vote to serve its interests.
There was ample evidence to show that the world opinion was not in favour of giving a stamp of recognition to Jerusalem as Israel's capital and thereby completely rejecting Palestine's claim on eastern part of the ancient city.
Just two days before resolution came up before the UNGA, the US had to veto a Security Council resolution calling on President Donald Trump to withdraw recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. This was the first instance when the US used its veto power in the UNSC in six years.
The US was the only member of the UNSC to oppose the resolution. Rest 14 members including the close allies of the US voted for the resolution asking for withdrawal of recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
India has not officially explained why it voted against Donald Trump administration's move to unilaterally settle the Jerusalem question. But on Wednesday - a day after Trump threatened to stop American aid to countries opposing the US move, India had categorically stated that New Delhi's Palestine position was independent and consistent. This was a hint that India would not vote in support of the US.
Earlier, the members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held a meeting at Istanbul to discuss the issue of recognition of Jerusalem by the US as Israel's capital. The OIC decided to oppose December 6 announcement of Donald Trump administration on the status of Jerusalem.
India has huge strategic and economic interests in the 57 member countries of the OIC. Except eight members of the OIC, all others are Islamic countries, where Jerusalem dispute is an emotive issue.
A decision against the prevailing sentiments in these countries might unnecessarily create a strain in relation with India, which has been working with OIC countries including Iran, UAE and Saudi Arabia in various fields and a smooth relation with them works in New Delhi's favour.
India has adopted a balancing out policy towards Israel and Palestine for long. Though India has emphasised in recent times that its Israel policy is not hyphenated to Palestine's but New Delhi has tried to maintain a balance in diplomatic relations.
India has deepened its military and strategic cooperation with Israel. And, in the backdrop of India's growing bilateral cooperation with the US, strengthening ties with Israel was being viewed by many countries as a shift from its sympathetic approach towards Palestine cause.
Recent Israel visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi further emboldened the critics. India needed to strike a balance to maintain consistency in its Palestine policy. With a vote for withdrawal of recognition to Jerusalem as Israel's capital, India has asserted its independent west Asia policy.
In September this year at the NAM ministerial meeting on Palestine at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had emphasised that the path to Israel-Jerusalem peace clearly lay in an early negotiated solution between Israel and Palestine based on mutual recognition and security arrangements.
Since the birth of Israel in 1948 and later its recognition as a UN member, Jerusalem has been a dispute between Tel Aviv and Palestinian National Authority. Till 1967, Israel had control over west Jerusalem while the eastern part was under Jordanian rule.
During the six-day war, Israel captured the eastern city of Jerusalem. But the OIC and Palestinian National Authority have declared the East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. The Palestinian National Authority is ready to forfeit its claim if Jerusalem is declared an open city, shared between Israel and Palestine.
The current positions held by both Israel and Palestine make the Jerusalem dispute unresolved. As India favours mutually acceptable settlement of dispute between Israel and Palestine, voting along the US' lines in UN on the question of Jerusalem would have reversed New Delhi's position on the matter.

Why India voted against US, Israel on Jerusalem at United Nations
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